Monday, 18 June 2012

Vic’s Take on the Much Music Video Awards 2012

Where do I begin with this one?  Every so often I tune in to see what’s going on in pop culture. Every time I do, I question how people let pop culture become what it is today.  This year’s MMVAs was hosted by LMFAO.  How can anyone take this ‘awards show’ seriously if the co-hosts are some of the most talentless artists alive?  I guess you’re not supposed to …unless you’re a 12 year old girl.
LMFAO is just plain odd to watch, especially when they are prancing around stage in their underwear. I’m still trying to figure out what they do as artists.  If shouting obscure phrases about partying in a microphone while dancing in ridiculous wardrobes can make you millions, the performers of Busker Fest should have all the motivation they need.

Do you know what gets really old?  Asking the crowd to scream…especially after the person who presented an award before you asked the crowd to do the same. They really should try to get the crowd to do something else for a change.  For example, “On the count of three, throw your keys high up in the air!!!!” Or, they could shout “FIRE!!!! Run!!!”  That would get the crowd nice and riled-up.

So the night definitely belonged to Carly Rae Jepsen who picked up 3 MMVAs. Oddly enough, the first time I heard her hit “Call me Maybe” was the night before when my future sister-in-law played her music video at my Family Bash.  At this point a lot of you are expecting me to drop a load on Carly but the truth is I can’t say anything profoundly negative about her.  She has one hit with a catchy chorus.  It seems to be enough for the masses to declare it a summer anthem.  Amazing how a new one-song-sensation can score so big at the MMVAs.  I don’t blame Carly for doing what she does.  It’s the 12 year old girls who are responsible for this.  Who knows though, maybe Carly Rae Jepsen will impress me with subsequent releases of quality music.  Stranger things have happened.  On a side note, Carly Rae Jepsen reminds me quite a bit of Alexz Johnson, the girl who played Jude in the Canadian TV show Instant Star.  But why did Carly’s career take off while Alexz’s is still waiting to launch?  From what I’ve seen, they have similar characteristics and talents.  The difference?  Justin Bieber mentioned Carly’s name on a Much Music program.  That’s what it takes to make it big.  Another thing about Carly: she’s 26 but acts like she’s 17.  I suspect it’s what you have to do to win over the 12 year olds…

I don’t get why Much Music decides to separate award categories for International Artists and Canadians.  This isn’t the Junos.  There are Canadian artists big enough to fill the international spotlight. There is no need to make separate categories for Canadian artists to make them feel better if they lose out to an international counterpart.  Categories like “International Video of the Year By a Canadian” confuse me.  That’s like saying ‘Hey Avril, you’re never going to make it has big as Katy Perry so here’s a consolation prize’.  Again, totally unnecessary.  Much Music, if you want your awards to be as big as the MTV Awards, stop treating the show like a B-Side track with your stupid categories.  Then again, I take these awards as seriously as I do of people wearing ear stretchers.

Okay next on the list.  Why do Simple Plan, Hedley, Marianas Trench, and Down with Webster always get nominated for something, year after year?  Actually I know why. It’s those damn Canadian specific categories for the MMVAs again.  If one of the before mentioned bands makes a video it becomes an automatic nomination because those are the only Canadian bands making pop-rock videos that are played on Much Music.

The live performances during the 2012 MMVAs were mediocre at best.  In a nutshell, LMFAO danced around in their underwear. Flo Rida was wearing a gauntlet of sorts. Carly Rae Jepson said ‘Call Me Maybe’. Nelly Furtado likes ‘em big. Katy Perry turned into a butterfly in a skin coloured dress.  Bieber looked like a rapper.  Hedley was…there.  So was Kelly Clarkson.  Honestly, the best performance of the night was by Ed Sheeran. No dancing around. Just singing and playing guitar.
That pretty much sums it up. 

Follow me on Twitter: @130hp
Vic Out.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Dearly Beloved Fever

I took a sick day last week because I had a crazy fever. During this time I had some of the most intense lucid fever dreams that I’ve ever experienced.  I’m not sure if you’ve experienced fever dreams before but they are certainly odd and confusing.  While I can’t exactly put into words what I dreamt about, it felt like I was tasked with impossible feats that could never be accomplished no matter how hard I tried.  These were no ordinary tasks.  I’m trying recall some of them but I have a hard time remembering my subconscious.  There was part of one dream where I was trying to hang towels or linens over rusty pipes but they wouldn’t stay up. Yeah, can you see why I hate being sick?

Now that I’m feeling much better I figure I should accomplish something more productive and tangible than hanging towels and linens.  I’ve been meaning to do a few more music reviews amongst other things.  One album on my to-do list is Hawk vs. Pigeon by Toronto’s own Dearly Beloved. 

Upon listening to the album the first couple of times, what immediately stood out were the shared vocals between Rob Higgins and Niva Chow.  At times Niva would accompany Rob at the end of verses in a rap-like fashion.  At other times there are back and for vocal exchanges, making a very balanced album. Tracks like “Aimed Right At Me” and “World Series of Fedoras” remind me of Band of Skulls, which is a complement because I think they do raw Male/Female vocals well.  The track “To Better Days” features label mate Care Failure of Die Mannequin.  It’s a track full of energy, actually one I think would fit nicely in a Die Mannequin album.  There is a distinct bass presence throughout the album that is immediately apparent in songs such as “She” which I’d say is the best song on the album.   Hawk vs. Pigeon ends properly with the slow instrumental jam “Doves Above the Door”.

Overall, I can’t say this is exactly the music I default to but I’m happy to have discovered another product of Toronto.  For those interested, Dearly Beloved will be performing at the Virgin Mod Club on June 15th with label mates Die Mannequin.  There’s a lot going on in the city this week with the kickoff of NXNE.  Expect some fun upcoming blog posts.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Review of Die Mannequin's EP Danceland

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to be writing more about music in the form of concert and album reviews. There are a couple reasons for this. One, I have a shitload of new audio gear I want to break in (that reminds me, I should write a post about all the toys I’ve acquired in the last month). Two, I want to get my blog going again.  Three, I’ve come across a bunch of new music. Other than my usual music sources such as XM Radio, exfm, and Slacker, I was fortunate enough to have music industry expert Eric Alper send me some new material (Follow him on Twitter at @ThatEricAlper). Now I don’t know Eric personally but one thing I do know is that he is a chain Tweeter.  He is so prolific that his Twitter account is like a constant live-stream of the music industry.
One band Eric sent my way was Die Mannequin with their soon-to-be released EP Danceland.  Die Mannequin is a Toronto band fronted by lead singer and guitarist Caroline Kawa, better known as Care Failure. [I know, awesome name isn’t it?]  Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a soft spot for bands fronted by women.  You can imagine how this was a no-brainer for me.  A Canadian band with a female lead vocalist that plays guitar is something right up my alley.
The record Danceland is about 28 minutes in length, definitely long for an EP. In fact, it’s as long as Weezer’s Green Album.   I was not expecting the EP to sound so ripe but after doing some research on the band I wasn’t surprised.  Die Mannequin had released a full Studio album called FINO + BLEED in 2009 as well as two other EPs.  Add that to the fact that some tracks on Danceland were recorded for Bruce McDonald’s film Hard Core Logo 2, featuring Care Failure and Die Mannequin, and you realize that this band has some experience under their belt.  Too bad I hadn’t discovered Die Mannequin earlier.  I’m not familiar with their earlier material but I will give it a listen as soon as I get my hands on it.  That’s a task I will add to my to-do list.
I listened to the Danceland EP about 10-15 times before putting my opinions down on paper. One of the first things I do when I listen to new music is try to find similarities to music I'm familiar with.  In this case I was immediately reminded of Coheed and Cambria.  Also, the semi-androgynous vocals remind me of those of Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a compliment.  Many people I know initially thought the lead singer of Silversun Pickups was a girl.  The similarity is apparent in the second track of Danceland, Candide, which happens to be my favourite song on the record.  Candide was on the FINO + BLEED album but I think they put it on the EP with the intention of turning it into a single.  Oh Yeah.  Do not think for a moment that Danceland is a dance album.  Danceland is actually the place where Hard Core Logo 2 was filmed.  Die Mannequin is definitely punk rock with elements of other popular rock genres.  The lyrics are aggressive and hold weight without being offensive. 
This is one hell of an energetic record.  The first 8 tracks are pure GO.  These aren’t songs you wind down to.  Instead, listen to them while you’re running from the cops and setting fire to the city.  This isn’t Jack’s Mannequin.  The tone is set from the start with the track The Other Tiffany.  If you like this track, the next 25 minutes will be a treat.  The last song on the EP called Just Go Away is the exception.  It’s a sombre acoustic track, the type I usually enjoy to conclude albums.  However, I couldn’t really warm up to this one.  Maybe Care should have done the vocals to make things fit together better as it felt too out of place, even for an EP.
My final thoughts.  I was a bit concerned that the record would be too aggressive for my tastes.  Admittedly, Die Mannequin is a bit edgier than the music I typically listen to but I felt that Danceland was a refreshing change.  The energy and passion in their music makes me look forward to their concert on June 15th at the Mod Club in Toronto.  I can almost feel the stage presence in their recorded EP so I can only imagine what they are capable of doing live.   
Candide By Die Mannequin

I realize this has been one of the more serious blog entries I’ve written in a while.  No I haven’t lost my cynical humour.  That will resurface at some point.  But for now, rock on and support local music.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Time to Dust Off the Keyboard

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened since then.  April was a busy month.  My time was divided between work, settling into my new place, concerts, and random stuff that I can’t remember. 

Despite all the craziness going on, I will be regularly updating my blog starting this week.  The themes of my posts will remain random but I do plan on doing more music and concert related posts.

Speaking of concerts, I’ve been to a few interesting ones in April.  The Joy Formidable at Lee’s Palace was quite excellent.  The Ting Tings and the Phoenix was a good time despite feeling super bad about standing in front of shorter people near the front.  Of Monsters and Men was a treat. I love them. Icelandic women are gorgeous. The Cults concert would have been a lot better if I didn’t feel so uncomfortable watching some random dude get unnecessarily close to WP7.  I won’t get into too much detail this time but this random dude and his friend had the tendency to continuously move backwards into us while having plenty space in front of them.  It was very strange.
Fun stuff coming up. Stay tuned!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Canadian Music Week – Day 1

Blogging after concerts seems to be tradition for me. Last night was the Treble Charger reunion concert at the Phoenix.  I would review the concert but let’s be realistic, everyone wants to know what sort of retarded people we encountered in the crowd.  Anyways, whenever WP7 and I go to concerts it’s pretty normal to run into interesting people.  Like I said, I tend to attract the retards whenever I go to big public events.  Opposites attract right?  Or, maybe I have it all wrong and everyone around me is normal and I’m the retard.
Here are the notables:
Mr. Come On – The Big Bald Bastard
This was an interesting character. Mainly because he would randomly shout “COME ON!” in the middle of every song that Twin Atlantic would play.  He would do it at the most inopportune times. For example, during  slow interludes and bridges.  I wanted to get it on video but I felt it would be awkward filming him as I stood beside him.  Here’s the closest visual I could find:

Awkward Threesome
So this girl and two guys were standing in front of us during the Treble Charger gig. For the first half of the gig I thought the girl was with the taller of the two guys. They appeared to be a couple. However, as the concert went on the shorter dude started kissing on her and the first guy was hands off. It was like they were taking turns. I can only imagine the conversation before the concert. “Dude, you can have her for the first 8 songs but after she’s mine! If there’s an encore, we flip a coin.  That wasn’t the oddest thing about this threesome though.  Everyone knows of some sort of ranking system of attractiveness of people in general. It’s usually on a scale of 10 where 10 is gorgeous and 1 is hideous. The general rule is couples are usually similar on the scale of attractiveness. So a 10 will typically have a partner who is a 9 or 10.  I found the standard deviation to be about 1.27 in most cases (don’t ask me how I came up with that).  Anyways, the girl in this threesome was about a 7 but the short guy was at best a 3. That’s a 4 point difference! That’s almost unheard of.  You’re considered lucky if you score someone 2 points higher than you. But four? FOUR!? I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in a few countries.
Billy Corgan meets Smeagol
This dude got asked to dance on stage because he was dancing the craziest.  This skinny bald guy was likely on speed.  His dance moves incorporated head-banging and general motions that may be familiar to Curious George.
         +     =  This Dude

That was Night 1 of Canadian Music Week. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the week…